I was confronted with the fact that I had never read this absolute classic a few weeks ago, when my nephew’s grandfather (not my own father, mind) gave it to him as a birthday present. I was determined to get my own copy and read it.
I have done so and read it.
To be fair I wasn’t impressed.
The book starts the same way it ends. It’s basically a very long rant about a teenage boy who gets kicked out of his fourth school and doesn’t want to face the confrontation with his parents, so he doesn’t. The book is one long rant about what he does instead to avoid this.
In Dutch this book used to have the title ‘Puber’, and that about catches what it really s about. You’re stuck in the mind of a teen, including all the phrases and words that you can remember so well keep being repeated. Every other sentence, if not the same sentence. It’s very much the way people talk, without editing. I was bored out of my mind because of that after three pages. It’s 230 pages, so that wasn’t very nice.
People have told me: ‘oh that book is so sad! But beautiful’, I don’t see the beauty in it I’m afraid. I did think it was funny how the language of the youth apparently just never changes. It’s set near the 1950s and you can still read it today and think you’re stuck in the mind of a teenager now. In that sense it’s pretty clever. Other than that: my god, STOP after a few pages, you’ll get the gist!